So Many Questions a Business Owner Must Ask re Ownership and Management Transitions

So many questions that a business owner must ask.  And answer, if he or she hopes to have successful management and ownership transitions and a successful business end game that prepares him or her for the rest of life.  Many of the questions are interrelated and the answers to some will influence the answers to others.  I pose the following questions as a starting point for discussion between owners, their families, their key employees, and their advisers. At the   conclusion of the questions, I suggest that you can begin to work on answers by examining your buy-sell agreement.  That process will get you in the mode of asking and answering critical questions during the interim time between now and your business end game that will insure that you transition ownership and management smoothly and prepare for the rest of your life.

The Questions


  1. Who do I want to transfer my ownership to?
  2. Who do I want to transition management responsibilities to?
  3. Who will I rely upon as trusted adviser(s) to assist me with the processes of ownership and management transition?


  1. What do I want to do after I leave the business?
  2. What is my business end game?
  3. What am I willing to do, now, to begin preparing for my business end game?
  4. What is my idea of what retirement should be for me?
  5. What is the plan for the business when I exit?
  6. What key decisions do I need to make and implement in the interim between now and my business end game to assure its success?


  1. When do I want to begin the process of transitioning ownership?
  2. When do I want to begin the process of transitioning management?
  3. When do I want to retire?
  4. When am I willing to commit and begin to work on my transition plans to facilitate my business end game?


  1. Where (or wheres) do I want to live when I retire?
  2. Where do I want to travel to after I retire?


  1. Why do I want to transition from ownership and management?


  1. How will I insure that I keep working on my transitions so that my business end game is successful?
  2. How can I accelerate obtaining liquidity from my business in the interim time? (e.g., leveraged dividend recapitalization or leveraged sale of part of my ownership to the business, or accelerating my personal savings rate)?

How Much?

  1. How much money do I need to successfully finance my retirement for the rest of my life?
  2. How much money do I need to finance any charitable giving that is important to me?

How Many?

  1. How many times have I thought about planning for my business end game and gotten derailed or procrastinated?
  2. How many times can I afford to procrastinate again?

The Answers

The questions are hard enough.  The answers are even tougher.  They require that owners work with others, including their families, their key employees and their trusted advisers to assure that all parties are on board with the path to developing the right answers for each owner’s situation.

One immediate action that an owner can take is examine the company’s buy-sell agreement.  Why the buy-sell agreement?  That term is not even mentioned in the questions above.  I mention the buy-sell agreement here as an “answer” because it is in existence and if it fails to operate properly for you or other owners, your entire retirement and business end game could be derailed.  It is just sitting there waiting to be triggered, and in all likelihood, neither you nor your family nor your employees nor your advisers knows what will happen if it is triggered.

Most buy-sell agreements will not work as the owners think they should to achieve a reasonable resolution to purchases and sales pursuant to the operation of the agreements.  I say this based on many years of experience in working with buy-sell agreements.  My book, Buy-Sell Agreements for Closely Held and Family Business Owners ($25 plus s/h) is an essential reference for business owners.  The accompanying Buy-Sell Agreement Review Checklist, a complimentary tool, can help you get started.  I recommend using the checklist in conjunction with the book.  For those who like to read electronically, there is a Kindle edition: Buy-Sell Agreements for Baby Boomer Business Owners.  It is a bargain at $2.99 to induce you to download it and read it.

While you are working on your buy-sell agreement, start asking yourself the questions posed above, and get with the right advisers to begin to work, during interim time, so that you will have a successful business end game.

If you would like to discuss issues related to ownership or management transition, or if you would like to talk about any valuation-related matter, please give me a call (901-685-2120) or email (

In the meantime, be well!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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